What’s the difference between the new TD-25 and TD-15 V-Drums?

Grab your sticks: there’s a new kit in town. The new Roland TD-25 V-Drums series was the big draw at Musik Messe 2015, turning heads, dropping jaws and sparking stampedes. Wallet-wise, the TD-25K (£1,595) and TD-25KV (£2,145) sit bang in the middle of the V-Drums range, and take over from the acclaimed TD-15 series. But everyone wants to know – what’s changed?

Don’t call it a ‘rebrand’ or a ‘facelift’. The new TD-25 kits represent a whole new concept, with major departures from the outgoing TD-15. Driven by feedback from real working drummers, these kits have everything that you need (and nothing that you don’t). You’ll find a more powerful TD-25 module with better drum sounds. There’s a streamlined interface whose operation lets you select and edit kits on the fly. Music can be imported faster than before via USB or smartphone, while a new audio recording system takes the pain out of nailing professional demos and sharing your music online. Any questions…?

What’s so special about the new TD-25 module?
That’s probably the key difference. The TD-15 sound module was dynamite, but the new TD-25 tops it. This latest ‘brain’ is derived from our flagship TD-30 processor, so it delivers higher quality drum sounds with greater expression than the TD-15 at the same price-point, and can deal with more subtle stickwork. Feedback tells us that drummers don’t want hundreds of nonsense kit simulations, so we’ve prioritised the TD-25’s memory accordingly: the 18 preset kits offered by the TD-25 might be fewer than the 50 found on the TD-15, but they’re in a different class.

So it’s about quality, not quantity?
Exactly. The TD-25’s core selection of onboard kits have all the dynamic range you’d expect from the TD-30 module, with adventurous techniques like rim shots, rolls, flams and ghost notes all faithfully relayed by Roland’s iconic SuperNATURAL behaviour modelling technology. Plus, if you do want more kit options, there’ll be free, downloadable kits regularly up for grabs from the TD-25 webpage.

How does TD-25 operation compare to the TD-15?
Again, it’s more streamlined. The 18 kits are split into six genre categories (‘Rock’, ‘Jazz’ etc) with a no-nonsense dial to cycle and select. Feedback tells us that TD-15 players were wary editing the presets, so for the TD-25, we’ve developed a simpler system that encourages you to have a crack. Instead of layered on-screen menus, each drum has a dedicated button: hit the ‘snare’ button (or strike the pad), to start editing parameters like volume, muffling and tuning. Even at the gig, it’s easy to pull off kit tweaks like swapping in a maple snare or adjusting all the toms simultaneously, but if you create a monster, the ‘undo’ button gets you back to default. Respect to the TD-15, but it was never this intuitive.

I enjoy jamming along to backing tracks: can I still do this on the TD-25?
You bet: the TD-15 had backing tracks onboard, but we think the new TD-25’s flexible connectivity is more jam-friendly. Sticking with the less-is-more ethos, there are no backing songs in the module (except one for demo purposes), but drummers can play WAV/MP3s from a USB stick or plug in a smartphone via the mix in jack. You can even loop and adjust the playback speed of tricky sections until you’ve nailed them. Again, it’s the features you need, not the fluff you don’t.

How does the TD-25 pad configuration compare to the TD-15?
It’s a better playing experience, more faithful to the physics of acoustic drums thanks to an upgrade of a few key pads. Both snare and hi-hats are areas the TD-25K can boast about over the previous TD-15K model. The TD-25K benefits from a larger PDX-100 snare that supports positional sensing (where your stick lands) and you won’t help but notice that the VH-11 V-Hi-hats which fit to an acoustic hi-hat stand that before now you’d have had to buy up to TD-15KV to get your hands on. Pull up a stool at the TD-25KV kit and you’ll notice how the ‘full-mesh’ design goes right to the edge of each tom pad, while the larger PD-85 and PDX-100 tom pads give you more area to play. A second CY-12C 12” crash cymbal is always welcome too – one just never seems enough.

Will I find it easier recording on the TD-25?
That’s another leap forward from the TD-15. Some drummers love using MIDI to trigger software and record their beats – but plenty of others find it bewildering. Whether you want to create a pro demo, ping your music onto the web or assess your playing, the TD-25’s built-in audio record function is a faster, easier way to capture your beats than the TD-15’s Quick Rec feature. Imagine this scenario: you get an email from your singer, asking for a beat to back up his new riff. Instead of messing with mics and software, you just download his riff to USB stick, upload it to the TD-25 and play along until you’ve got your part down. Then record your drum track (with/without click), export via USB and send him the finished article over the web. Quality, awesome sounding and ready-mixed drum track in the bag.